Friday, March 22, 2013

JTSF Rockstar | Gabrielle Chapman (March)

Gabrielle is a very empathetic child. She is always willing to help anyone at any time and is such a spirited, delightful girl.  She is a brain cancer survivor and is quite the "scrapper”. She wears her heart on her sleeve!  She loves to color and play with her older sister, Elizabeth. She goes on Facebook to talk to all of her Penn State Dance Marathon friends that adopted her family from Penn State Abington. “We love Penn State and THON is everything to our family because they helped save our daughters life. That is a very important part of our life.”  

When Gab was diagnosed she had fallen and hit her head. Two days after the fall her doctor thought Gabrielle had a virus because she was walking like she was drunk. Following that viral diagnosis, Gabrielle received a CT scan and then her family was told to take her back to the doctor. The Chapman family went from the doctor’s office where they received the CT scan results. Immediately following, they were sent to see a neurosurgeon the Penn State Hershey Medical Center neurosurgeon where they stayed overnight to receive an MRI.

The MRI results showed that Gab had a 4 cm tumor at the base of her cerebellum. She received brain surgery to remove the tumor and this gave the Chapman’s the official diagnosis of Medullablastoma. She started chemotherapy two weeks later.


Gabrielle received one month of in-patient chemo and one month of chemotherapy at home. The Chapman’s learned everything about chemo, even how to give it to her in her n/g tube. They gave their daughter Neupogen shots too. Neupogen (filgrastim) is an injection of a drug that helps your body make white blood cells.

Additionally she received a stem cell transplant. This is where the patient’s cells are taken out of their body, separated from the blood stream and frozen. The patient receives a mega-dose of chemotherapy and then the stem cells are injected back into the patient. This is called an autologous transplant because it uses the patient’s own cells but the cancer cells are removed or destroyed and only the good cells are used.

After this procedure Gab had a restriction of 100 days where she was not permitted to be in physical contact with anyone except immediate family. This also meant she had to repeat all her immunizations.

However, since then she has been only visiting the hospital for outpatient clinic visits. Gabrielle has been cancer free for 6 years!

Gabrielle is just plain awesome and so very determined. Her parents say that she is always closing the gap that was put in front of her because of the delays her cancer caused. She is a spunky and very fun little girl who has a big life ahead of her.

Her parent’s biggest hope for her is that her cancer never comes back.  They want Gab to get caught up in all aspects of her life but also be a kid as long as possible! She always says she wants to grow up to be a teacher. One time her mom asked her why and Gabrielle responded, “I just want to help people!” 


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